China sanctions former Republican Rep Mike Gallagher after Taiwan president's inauguration

The Chinese foreign ministry announced sanctions against former Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., on Tuesday, the day after Taiwan inaugurated a new president.  

The former U.S. lawmaker, whose early departure from Congress last month further narrowed the GOP’s slim House majority, has been banned from entering China, the ministry said according to Reuters.  

The Chinese foreign ministry reportedly said Gallagher “interfered in China’s internal affairs” without elaborating, and that China, therefore, will freeze his assets in the country and ban organizations and individuals there from cooperating with him. 

At a press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin also criticized U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken for congratulating Taiwan’s new President Lai Ching-te. 

“It’s a serious violation of the political commitment made by the US to maintain only cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations with the Taiwan region,” Wang said, according to Bloomberg. 

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In February, Gallagher led a U.S. congressional delegation to visit Taiwan, where he met with both then-President Tsai Ing-wen and her successor, Lai. 

According to the select committee, Gallagher told Tsai that the trip was meant for Democrats and Republicans to show “our bipartisan support for this partnership” and thanked her for “not only being an` incredible leader here in Taiwan, but really distinguishing yourself as a leader within the free world.” 

“Freedom is under attack from authoritarian aggression. And we need to be more vigilant than ever if we want to pass on this gift of freedom we’ve been given to the next generation,” he said at the time. 

Just days ago, Gallagher formally joined the Hudson Institute, an American conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., as a distinguished fellow. During an inaugural event on Monday, Gallagher, the former chairman of the House select committee on the CCP, discussed how China is fueling the fentanyl trade in the U.S. and “underscored the need to bolster deterrence in the Indo-Pacific,” according to the institute. 

Lai said in his inauguration speech Monday that he wants peace with China and urged it to stop its military threats and intimidation of the self-governed island that Beijing claims as its own territory.

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“I hope that China will face the reality of (Taiwan)’s existence, respect the choices of the people of Taiwan, and in good faith, choose dialogue over confrontation,” Lai said after being sworn into office.

Lai pledged to “neither yield nor provoke” Beijing and said he sought peace in relations with China. However, he emphasized the island democracy is determined to defend itself “in the face of the many threats and attempts at infiltration from China,” according to The Associated Press. 

The Chinese office in charge of Taiwan affairs criticized Lai’s inauguration speech as promoting “the fallacy of separatism,” inciting confrontation and relying on foreign forces to seek independence.

“We will never tolerate or condone any form of ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities,” Chen Binhua, spokesperson of the Taiwan Affairs Office of China’s State Council, said, adding that adversaries “cannot stop the historical trend of the motherland’s eventual reunification.” 

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Monday also announced sanctions against Boeing and two other defense companies for arms sales to Taiwan.

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Lai, 64, takes over from Tsai, who led Taiwan through eight years of economic and social development despite the COVID-19 pandemic and China’s escalating military threats. Beijing views Taiwan as a renegade province and has been upping its threats to annex it by force if necessary.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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